Confusing Words (Part 1): “Hung” vs “Hanged”

 What’s the difference between “hung” and “hanged” and when to use which?

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, there are 4 usage of “hang” as a verb, and 1 as a noun.

Definitions & Usage of “Hang”:

Definitions

Simple Present

Simple

Past

Past

Participle

Examples

(1) fix at top (verb)

hang

hung

hung

Hang your coat and hat on the rack over there. 

She hung her coat on the rack last night.

 

(2) stay/linger (verb)

hang

hung

hung

Smoke from the houses hung above   the village. 
(3) bend/curve down (verb) 

hang

hung

hung

He knew he had done something wrong and hung his head in shame. 
(4) kill (verb) 

hang

hanged

hanged

He was found guilty and hanged later that year. 
(5) learning of something (noun)

 (Not applicable for nouns)

I soon got the hang of the new software programme and became adept at it.

 Therefore, the only time you would use “hanged” (in the past / past participle tense) is when you’re referring to the manner a person was killed. In all other instances, we use “hung”.  :)

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